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What did I learn from the thousands of settlement conferences and mediations over which I presided during my almost 27 years on the bench? I learned that deep dedication to the values of human dignity and creative thinking, combined with the rigorous and fair application of factual analysis, almost always clears the way for successful dispute resolution.
For most of my judicial career, I served as the Presiding Judge for Civil Matters in Stamford and Danbury, CT. In that role, I regularly encountered truly vexing conflicts in both the legal and emotional dimensions, and I developed a unique approach to working those situations that I now bring to my clients. And unlike my service in the Judiciary, happily I now have the ability to select my cases and devote as much time as each case deserves.
Additionally, my service as a State Representative from the 140th District in Norwalk provided invaluable experience as I honed my dispute resolution skills. As Vice-Chair of the Judiciary Committee, I was able to bring together adverse parties to help write legislation that helped both sides. I used those skills, as a Judge, in 2008, to work collaboratively with the Legislature to craft legislation that created the Foreclosure Mediation Program (the first statewide mediation program in the nation). This Mediation Program was created in response to the mortgage foreclosure crisis of 2007-08 and helped thousands of families retain their homes.
Over the course of my legal and legislative career, I have learned that if you treat everyone with mutual respect and dignity, if you listen to them carefully, people will feel they have been heard — and thus they’ll have confidence in the process, whether in court or in mediation.
Here’s the timeline of my experience prior to my joining the firm as a Partner on its ADR team: I was appointed to the Superior Court in 1993 and served as the Civil Presiding Judge and the Assistant Administrative Judge for the Judicial District of Stamford/Norwalk, and as the Administrative Judge and the Civil Presiding Judge for the Judicial District of Danbury. Prior to my service on the bench, I was a State Representative from Norwalk (1987-1992) and served as the Vice-Chair of the Judiciary Committee for most of that time.
I am a Partner in Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey’s LLP Litigation Group and a member of its Alternative Dispute Resolution practice area.